The Cost of Repointing Brickwork

Last updated 20th May 2020

Find out how much it costs to repoint your house or any brickwork. Here we breakdown repointing prices per square metre so that anyone can calculate the cost for their repointing work.

The Cost Of Repointing a Brick Wall

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How Much Does It Cost to Repoint Brickwork?

The average material cost to repoint brickwork will depend on the size of the area you need repointing. Materials will include the replacement mortar and potentially scaffolding to reach the upper floors which should cost around £3,000 to repoint an average 3-bed semi-detached house. However, smaller jobs such as repointing a chimney are typically priced from £400.

The size of the brickwork is what usually determines the price, although it may vary depending on the condition of the masonry, as significantly damaged brick will cost a lot more to fix.

There are some related jobs that should be considered alongside this one, as it will usually work out cheaper to have other work done at the same time, especially if you need scaffolding for the repointing and this can be used for other jobs such as replacing tiles, fixing chimneys, or replacing fascia or soffit boards etc.

Pointing and Repointing Prices

Below are some estimated costs of pointing/repointing a wall:

Job Description Avg. Cost Duration
Repointing/Pointing a wall including clean up £25 - £50 per m2 1-2 days
Pointing/Repointing a chimney £400 - £1,000 1 – 5 days
Pointing/Repointing front or side of a house £1,500 - £2,000 5-7 days
Pointing/Repointing a semi-detached house £2,500-£3,000 12-16 days
Pointing/Repointing a Victorian terraced property £3,250 - £4,000 15-20 days
Scaffolding hire £40 to £150 a day 1 to 20 days


DIY Repointing Costs

If you are planning to save money, you may want to repoint brickwork yourself. This can, of course, help you avoid labour costs as you will only to purchase the materials. For example, if you want to repoint your entire home you should expect to pay around £300 for the materials, saving yourself around £1950 on hiring a tradesman. This will include the mortar materials as well as scaffolding hire, although you may have to pay extra for this if you are repointing the entire house, as the price is typically around £40 to £150 a day.

You may also have to purchase tools to complete the job, including:

  • A chisel (£5 to £16)
  • Cement mixer (£100 to £400)
  • Pointing trowel (£5 to £10)
  • Mortar board (£30 to £70)
  • Soft brush (£1 to £6)
  • Wire brush (£1 to £4)
  • Mortar mix (£1 per kg)

Cost Breakdown Calculator

Individual Costs for repointing an average-sized 3-bed semi-detached house - Total Cost: £3,000

10%

Materials & Waste
£300

65%

Tradesmen
£1,950

25%

Scaffolding
£750

Labour Costs and Time Frames

The average bricklayer will usually charge around £155 to £325 per day in labour costs and will usually work by themselves or in a pair. The time it takes to complete the job will depend on how much repointing is required, in terms of the number of bricks and how badly they need repointing. A job that involves just repointing the front door and surrounding windows this will take around 1 day to complete and could cost up to £250 for labour. While a typical semi-detached home will take around 6 days to repoint with a labour rate of around £1950. Repointing a chimney can take anywhere from 1 to 5 days so could cost anywhere from £155 to £1625.

What Does Repointing Brickwork Entail?

This job will basically entail cleaning the wall and removing all the old crumbling mortar, then applying new mortar into the gaps, then removing any excess and finishing the job off. This is not the most complicated job in the world, but it is very time-consuming.

The first step is to inspect the wall for potential trouble spots, then clear old mortar from the joints working from top to bottom, next mix the new mortar ensuring it is not too hard.

Before the new mortar can be pressed into the joints the wall needs to be sprayed with water as dry walls can suck the moisture from the mortar causing cracking.

Now the repointing work can begin with packing plenty of mortar into the joints and ensuring there are no gaps or air pockets. Most professionals will work a few rows at a time and then smooth off the mortar with various tools depending on the type of finish required.

When to Repoint

With every brick-built home, there will come a time when the mortar between the bricks will need repointing. This may seem like a trivial problem, but don't underestimate the importance of pointing. The mortar can account for as much as 15 per cent of the overall surface area of the masonry and has a huge impact on the quality and safety of the wall.

The mortar also acts as the walls primary defence against water ingress and penetrating damp, so is a critical aspect of the property structure. Mortar does not just hold the bricks together in a wall, it fills in any irregularities on the faces of the bricks and plays an important part in the house construction.

pointing a wall

Being softer than bricks, the mortar will at some point begin to show signs of ageing due to the weathering. But this is actually supposed to happen by design, the mortar takes the brunt of weathering rather than the bricks, but this eroding means portions of the wall will need to be repointed at some point, which can be expensive.

If your bricks are damaged, they will start to look unsightly and will, therefore, need to be removed and replaced. You may notice damage early on if pointing has failed or it is unsuitable, which is typically the case when modern cement is used instead of traditional lime mortar. If you find that your bricks are constantly wet, this may be due to damaged brickwork.

Another clear sign that your exterior walls need repointing is the appearance of efflorescence, which is caused through rising damp. This consists of a white substance that forms on the brickwork due to water and dissolved salts entering the walls. While this does not permanently damage the brickwork, it does not offer a great aesthetic so repointing it could be the best way to resolve the problem.

How to Repoint

Here is a step by step guide for repointing brickwork:

  • Before you lay the mortar, it is important that you clear the wall space of any plants, debris, and dust, then plastic sheets should be laid to prevent damage to the pathway or plants.
  • The existing pointing can then be removed with a chisel and hammer. When doing this, extra care must be taken when chipping away the pointing around your windows and doors, as this can affect the way they open and close.
  • Once all the pointing is removed, only the edge of the wall material should be visible. This will provide space to replace and lay the mortar, although it should be dusted before any mortar is applied.
  • The mortar will then be mixed evenly to keep the colour consistent. This will include building sand, white cement, and lime mortar.
  • The mortar should then be applied from the top working downwards by pushing it firmly in and moving right to left, then it is left to dry before two or three more courses are added.
  • Once everything is dry, the vertical joints can then be filled with mortar and then this is also left to dry for a couple of hours.
  • After everything is completely dry, a wire brush should be used to remove the excess material making sure that it is spread evenly and all pointing is removed from the face of the brick.

What’s the Difference Between Pointing and Repointing?

The main difference between pointing and repointing is that pointing is actually the initial building process which involves the construction of the joints between each brick. While repointing is the repairing procedure where the original pointing has worn down and requires removal and replacement.

The process of pointing is completed while building a brick wall, which involves measuring and layering mortar onto the bricks before construction. Once the bricks are piled up, a brick jointer is normally used to push the mortar into the newly-made joints.

Repointing is required when the original repointing has failed, so it simply involves a remove and replace job by getting rid of the old repointing from the brick wall joints and filling in the space with new mortar.

Can Pointing and Repointing Be a DIY job?

If you are sticking to a budget you may want to repoint your walls yourself, as this will help you avoid labour costs. However, when it comes to pointing a new wall, you may want to seek professional help to ensure that all the measurements are correct, because if not, you could find yourself with wonky walls as well as possible damp issues.

It is important to remember that repointing can be done as a DIY project as long as you have the time and patience to do the job properly. But safety is paramount, so do not attempt to carry out repointing using a ladder, as proper scaffolding or a working platform will be required when carrying out this type of work at height.

pointing

In addition, it is crucial that the right type of mortar is used, if unsure about any aspect of repointing you should always seek professional advice. Even if you are confident you can carry out the work, it is worth getting a surveyor in to assess the wall and offer advice on how much repointing is required, or even whether to remove the old mortar at all - some professionals will advise leaving the old mortar alone unless it is causing structural problems!.

Repointing Old Properties

One of the main issues that can happen, particularly with older properties, is where they have been incorrectly repointed using a cement mortar, which effectively smothers the building, rather than a traditional lime mortar that would allow it to breathe.

If your property is Edwardian, Victorian, Georgian or Elizabethan or was built before the 1930s, then it is essential that you or the professional you hire uses lime mortar instead of Portland cement to avoid cracks and additional damage. It may be more expensive to do this, as older properties such as terraced homes tend to cost more to repoint, although it is definitely worth the extra money in the long run.

Portland cement has various other disadvantages that make it less suitable for repointing older properties. For example, this type of mortar is impermeable to water, has no flexibility, and it also harms the environment. In comparison to lime mortar, which is eco-friendly, flexible, and can adapt to damage.

However, cement is cheaper than lime mortar, as the average cost starts at around £0.16 per kg, while lime mortar is usually priced at £0.50 per kg.

Difference Between Cement, Mortar and Concrete

Cement

This repointing material consists of a fine powder that is typically combined with water. It is used as a binding agent when mixed with concrete and mortar and is usually referred to as Portland cement. This is usually made up of limestone, silica sand, clay and shells, although limestone is the most dominant material found in cement.

Cement typically costs around £0.16 to £1.64 per kg and is commonly used during the pointing or repointing process. It is utilised to fill in the gaps between the bricks or stone, although only on properties built after the 1930s. It is known as hydraulic cement, as it is known to set and harden quickly when mixed with water.

Mortar

Mortar contains cement, limestone and sand and is typically used to secure bricks and stones together. This type of repointing material is not as strong as concrete and so, therefore, is not used on its own, as it instead acts as a glue that holds other materials together.

pointing with mortar

Mortar usually comes premixed, which again should be mixed with water. This price for this is around £0.40 to £2.32 per kg. You can also buy the material separately and combine the materials with a cement mixer, although make sure you choose the right mortar before mixing.

Concrete

Concrete is a mixture of cement, stone and sand. This is a building material that is used to build most masonry structures, as it is one of the most flexible structural substances available. This is because it starts off as a dry mixture which when combined with water becomes a semi-liquid which can form almost any shape and then hardens to create a hardened construction, especially when metal is added to the mixture.

You can purchase ready-made bags of cement for smaller projects, which can be activated by adding some water. However, for larger projects, you can get premixed concrete delivered in large quantities or purchase bags of cement and then mix them with the right amount of sand and gravel for the perfect concrete material. Premixed concrete usually costs around £0.24 to £2.83 per kg.

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Choosing Pointing Mortar

There are five different types of mortar including Lime mortar and type N, O, S and M which are all mixed with different measurements of cement, lime and sand. These typically cost around £0.40 to £2.32 per kg. To find out which pointing mortar is right for you, here is a breakdown of each material.

Lime mortar

This material is made up of hydraulic or non-hydraulic lime, water and an aggregate such as sand. This is typically used to preserve older buildings, as Portland cement can cause damage to homes or buildings before the 19th century, especially if they are made from stone.

Type N

This is a common type of mortar that is made up of 6 parts sand, 1-part Portland cement and 1-part lime. It has a strength of 750 pounds per square inch (psi) which is why it is typically used above ground, can carry heavy loads and is also ideal for structures that are exposed to severe weather conditions.

Type O

This is a less durable mortar mix with a strength of just 350 psi. This is typically used in home interiors for non-load bearing walls, and is also commonly utilised for repointing, as it is a consistent material that is easy to apply.

Type S

This mortar mix has the second-highest psi at over 1,800, although it can be mixed up to a strength of 3,000. This material is usually applied below ground due to its ability to withstand soil pressure, as well as adverse weather. It is normally used for the construction of manholes, sewers, retaining walls, and patios.

Type M

This contains the most Portland cement, therefore it is not suitable for historic properties, although is often used for building foundations, driveways and retaining walls. Despite its 2,500 psi, it actually has poor adhesion qualities, so is not typically used for repointing or any other exposes structures.

removing mortar

Repointing Options

There are various repointing methods and finishes to choose from, including:

Flush pointing

This pointing technique is where the mortar is pressed down hard into the joints and becomes flush with the edge of the brick, then the edges are trimmed. This method is used for durability rather than aesthetic reasons as the look of it is not always appealing, although it does last for a long time. This is because it does not provide space for dust or water and therefore is longer-lasting.

Recessed pointing

With this method, the mortar is typically pressed back around 5mm or more away from the edges in a vertical fashion. This is not as durable as flush pointing; however, it does offer a much better aesthetic.

Beaded pointing

Another aesthetically-pleasing technique is beaded pointing which is constructed with a concave edge. While this is great to look at, it can also damage very easily, so many not be the best option for your home.

Struck pointing

This method is similar to flush pointing, however, struck pointing involves pressing the mortar into the upper edge by 10mm, which helps water drain more easily.

Tuck pointing

This application involves pushing the mortar into the joint first, then it is fixed to become flush with the face. The groove is then cut while the mortar is green making sure it has a width of 5mm and a depth of 3mm. This is then filled in with white cement putty and pushed forward at least 3mm past the face of the brick. This is done to create the illusion of finer joints to enhance the appeal.

Benefits of Repointing

If you are planning to repoint your brickwork, there are several ways you can benefit. One of the main advantages is that you can improve the look of your home, as repointing will reinstate or enhance the aesthetic of your home’s exterior. This not only benefits you from a vanity standpoint but will also enable you to increase the value of your home, as buyers will be more interested in a well-looked after and aesthetically-pleasing property.

Repointing is also an ideal solution for conserving historic properties that have expired brickwork. By repointing the walls, you can rejuvenate an old property using lime mortar. This will also help to reduce the amount of maintenance that is required for both dated homes and modern properties.

repointing a wall

By repointing you can also make your walls more durable against adverse weather conditions, especially with new repointing methods which will enable you to weatherproof your walls.

Overall, repointing is necessary for avoiding significant damage to the foundational structure of your home, so it is extremely important that it is done right. This means the mortar used must be softer than the material it is replacing to make room for water to escape and evaporate. If it does not provide room for this, then it can force the mortar to push through the brick and stone, causing cracking and spalling.

FAQ's

Repointing done properly is meant to last as long as 50 years or more. Professional repointing work almost guarantees the long life of the mortar joint and the wall.
If the mortar starts to soften or crumble, then it is a sign that the wall will need repointing. In addition, if your walls are also damp this could be because moisture is leaking into the wall due to the damaged mortar. In any case, early repointing work can eliminate further damage and save money in the long run.
This completely depends on the size of the job. If you think you may need repointing done, get a professional in to survey the structure to find out how much work will be required.
No, if you notice crumbling or damp mortar then it is best to get the repointing work done as soon as possible to prevent further damage and even more costs. As long as it is not raining and the temperature is above freezing then the work can be carried out.
Cement is a binder that holds other materials together and it is the mix of other materials that will determine the final product. Concrete is an aggregate of sand or gravel, cement, and water, with the aggregate making up over 60% of the mix. Though mortar is also a mixture of water, sand, and cement, the water to cement ratio is much higher and when mixed, mortar is a much thicker substance than concrete.
Last century building techniques were very different and traditional properties need to breathe to allow the moisture to evaporate from the external stonework or render. Older buildings were not constructed with a damp-proof course and were made from materials such as brick, cob and stone - all of which are relatively porous. Lime mortar is a relatively softer mortar and able to withstand more movement without cracking and is porous so allows moisture to evaporate.
Cement mortar is usually harder and less porous than lime mortar. Therefore, when movement occurs the mortar will often crack. Hard cement mortar will also trap moisture causing damage to the structure over time and encouraging groundwater to rise up by capillary action in a solid wall.

How to Find & Hire A Bricklayer to Repoint

If you want your brick repointing done right, then the best thing to do is hire a professional bricklayer who will charge around £40 to £150 a day or more depending on how much repointing is required. As bricklayers do not need official qualifications to complete the job, it is important that you shop around before deciding on a tradesman who is fully insured and has extensive experience with repointing.

Sources

https://www.oldhouseguy.com/repointing-brick/
https://www.aboveallchimneys.com/the-importance-of-repointing-the-mortar-in-your-masonry-structures/
https://www.spab.org.uk/advice/tuck-pointing
https://theconstructor.org/building/pointing-brickwork-construction/11290/
https://www.thebalancesmb.com/recommended-guide-for-selection-of-mortar-mix-type-844821
https://www.thespruce.com/difference-between-cement-concrete-and-mortar-2130884
https://www.buildbright.co.uk/lime-mortar/lime-vs-cement-mortar
http://www.michaeljamesdesign.co.uk/13.html

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